It’s time to overthrow the “masters.”

Such is the view of an overwhelming number of biz professionals who note that the industry’s stated opposition to systemic racism obligates us to confront the terminology at the heart of our own work. Calling original tapes and tracks “masters” may be traditional, they argue, but it is enmeshed in the horrific history of slavery (whether overtly or implicitly, the copies made from the “master” are “slaves”). It’s not really that hard to adjust our language, simply using “sound recordings” in our legal documents and other communications in place of “masters.” After all, if we have a choice, why replicate the language of slavery?

"The long-held music industry practice of referring to sound recordings as ‘masters’ is archaic, racist and indicative of the historic relationship between the record companies and the creative community,” says Black Music Action Coalition Co-Chair Prophet. “As an industry that's looking to be more inclusive, and based on the public statements made by almost every major label after the death of George Floyd and in support of BlackOut Tuesday last year, I would expect everyone to be on the same page to eliminate this terminology from our collective vocabulary and psyche!"

A number of prominent attorneys and others are embracing “sound recordings” as a preferable phrase for contracts and other documents. We’re going to do the same in our publications and discourse.

So many manifestations of inequality are incredibly difficult to change, but this one’s pretty easy.